Change in Body Positioning During Radiation Proves More Effective

A new treatment board allows patients undergoing radiation therapy to lie on their stomachs, permitting the therapy to better target breast cancer while minimizing the effects to the lungs and heart.

Julia White, of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, helped to modify the new board. Patients traditionally lie on their backs on while undergoing radiation therapy. While effective, this approach does have some risk of damaging healthy lung and heart tissue. With the new positioning of lying on the stomach, the breast tissue falls away from the chest wall, which allows the treatment to better reach and target the cancerous cells. The radiation is kept in front of the ribs and does not effect the lungs and heart.

Patients using the new positioning lie on a bean bag also known as a "vac bag" that fits their shape and immobilizes their arms for the duration of the treatment. The board also allows for the radiation beam to make a full rotation around the patient. Traditional therapy using radiation has been associated with issues involving the shape of the breast, with the patient happy with their post-treatment look in only 60 to 70 percent of cases. 

"We found that we are able to have a really good rate of cosmetic outcome in 80 to 90 percent of the women go go through this treatment," White said in a statement. 

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